Despite the decline, fleet sales still accounted for more than 54% of the August new car market which totalled 71,228 units, down 4.32% on August 1999's 74,444 tally. Business registrations - sales to the sub-25 fleet market - totalled 4,343 which was almost 35% up year-on-year. Year-to-date fleet sales are 1.9% up at 678,890 in a total new car market up just 0.78% at 1,444,261, of which business car sales are up 30.8% to 149,445.
The SMMT expects September sales to total almost 400,000 units - September last year saw 386,999 cars registered - with 2000 sales still on target to be 2.225 million units.
Of the major players Ford, Vauxhall and Citroen - up 7.5%, 3.5% and 6.1% respectively - were the only top 10 fleet manufacturers to report year-on-year sales rises. The Ford Focus was the best-selling fleet car, although Daewoo surprised the market by almost doubling fleet sales and taking eighth place in the manufacturers' best-selling league table last month, largely as a result of massively increased Matiz registrations.
The company said its sales boost was due to a combination of daily rental orders being brought forward to meet demand for car hire over the August Bank Holiday weekend, coupled with demand from the sub-25 sector and contract hire firms.
Fleet diesel car sales surprisingly increased year-on-year last month, although they remain behind 1999's eight-month sales total. Sector diesel sales totalled 7,232 in a diesel car market 10.6% up year-on-year at 11,480. Fleet diesel sales this year are 0.5% behind last year's eight-month tally at 112,547 (1999: 113,090) with total diesel sales 2.6% up year- on-year at 201,564 (1999: 196,480).In the first eight months of this year, Ford continues to lead the fleet market as Focus sales continue to rise while those of the run-out Mondeo continue to fall.
However, the manufacturer has seen its market share drop year-on-year from 21.66% for the first eight months of last year to 21.52% this year. Chief rival Vauxhall has seen its market share increase from almost 18% to 19.28% during the same period largely due to strong Astra and, more surprisingly in run-out mode, Corsa, while Vectra sales drop. Peugeot (up 7.7%) year-on-year, Toyota (up 19.8%) and BMW (up 47.3%) are the only other top 10 fleet manufacturers to report fleet sales rises this year.
Top 10 best-selling fleet manufacturers in August were: Ford 10,031, Vauxhall 6,958, Peugeot 4,001, Renault 3,460, Volkswagen 2,990, Nissan 1,375, Citroen 1,183, Daewoo 1,047, Toyota 996, Fiat 954.
Top 10 best-selling fleet models in August were: Ford Focus 4,134, Vauxhall Astra 2,578, Ford Mondeo 2,512, Ford Fiesta 1,838, Vauxhall Vectra 1,809, Vauxhall Corsa 1,654, Renault Megane 1,593, Peugeot 306 1,354, Peugeot 406 1,097, Volkswagen Golf 1,039.
Top 10 best-selling fleet diesel manufacturers in August were: Peugeot 2,165, Ford 1,571, Volkswagen 939, Vauxhall 794, Citroen 392, Renault 224, Nissan 174, Skoda 150, Audi 146, Fiat 127.
Top 10 diesel best-selling fleet diesel models in August were:Peugeot 306 892, Ford Focus 747, Peugeot 406 724, Vauxhall Astra 466, Peugeot 206 461, Volkswagen Passat 437, Ford Mondeo 354, Volkswagen Golf 276, Citroen Xsara 189, Ford Escort 184.